Crossing the finish line, I couldn’t believe that I had taken over three and a half minutes off my half-marathon PR. Had that just happened?
As I walked along the finishers’ chute, the reality began to sink in. Emotion and exhaustion mixed together, and the tears started a-coming. I made a feeble effort to control them, but when I saw my aunt and cousin on the other side of the fence, I just let myself lose it. Aunt Paula wrapped me up in a congratulatory hug; Pink Long-Sleeved Girl, my mid-race focal point, walked by and told her [I was busy sobbing] that I’d had a great race. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the wherewithal to thank Ms. Pink for the compliment and for motivating me out on the course. I think I just sort of flailed and grunted. Hopefully she understood.
After snagging my finisher’s medal, staggering around a little, visiting my good friend the porta-potty, and gobbling down a couple post-race snacks, I was ready for a change of scenery. The 3M had treated me well (and honestly, I’d recommend that race to anyone; I can’t think of one complaint), but I was cold and eager for an Austin specialty: breakfast tacos!
We went to Cisco’s, where I ordered two tacos: one chorizo, and one miga-style. By the end of the meal, I was in love. Don’t get me wrong, breakfast tacos haven’t displaced breakfast burritos in my heart, but man did they hit the spot after that race.
Then it was home for a shower, nap and some happy-race-report texts and calls to friends and family. After a delicious lunch at Torchy’s Tacos, during which I realized the true glorious potential of queso, it was time to hit the town again. Remember how I had decided that I needed new cowgirl boots? Well, I figured if a girl can’t treat herself to new shoes after a great race, when can she? Thus I found myself in Cavender’s, waited on by a cute young cowboy who I was eight seconds away from falling in love with when he mentioned his girlfriend. Rats. But I found fabulous boots – small matter that I needed a plastic bag to get the left one on at first.
That night brought another first for me: the Alamo Drafthouse. We saw the Sherlock Holmes sequel, which was fine, but as for the whole experience? With the food, beer, cool pre-show entertainment, harsh no-talking rules and the comfy seats? Albuquerque definitely needs one of these.
Monday was blessedly relaxed. Aunt Paula had jury duty that afternoon, so my cousin and I dropped her off and decided it was time for BACON. No seriously, that’s the name of the restaurant. It’s one of those places that got converted from a house, which always ups the charm factor, and they serve…sigh…fried chicken and waffles. With bacon in the waffle batter. I think I actually started purring.
My aunt’s jury time didn’t last long, so we all reunited and headed to something called the Cathedral of Junk. It sounds insane till you actually see it. The place is cool. Discarded bike parts, computer components, CDs, tires, trophies, and so much more, all perfectly engineered into art. It makes you think twice about the contents of your garage.
We strolled along South Congress, a.k.a. “SoCo,” which was fun even in the rain [side note: why don’t more cities have food trailers?]. Then it was dinnertime, at Evangeline’s. Live Cajun music, couples who somehow managed to gracefully dance amidst the tables, and stinkin’ fantastic food. For dessert, my cousin, bless him, introduced me to the Pecan Praline Pistolette. It was almost a religious experience, and a fitting exclamation point for my last night in Austin.
Tuesday arrived, bringing packed bags and a quick visit to Mount Bonnell to climb its stairs and admire the view. I half-hoped for a sighting of Kristin Armstrong, who has written about doing hill workouts there, but no luck. Oh well. Standing at the top of the stairs, looking out over the town, I assured myself I wouldn’t repeat the mistake of letting so much time pass before returning.
Till then, I have some boots to break in.